Friday, April 26, 2013

Dear Parent-When

Dear Parent-When,

There is solid reasoning for people saying, "your life will be forever changed" as soon as you announce your pregnancy.  Your "parent" friends start to tell you all sorts of anecdotal warnings and cautions while you still dreamily bask in the joy of New Parenthood.  No matter how much one tries to prepare oneself, reality doesn't truly set in until one is on the other side of it.  I've been on that side of it now for about a decade, and here is my #TopTen list of You-Know-You're-a-Parent-When:

10. When you begrudgingly willingly deal with bodily fluids or solids of another person besides yourself.  On an hourly or daily basis.  With the occasional Regurgitory or Diarrheal Surprise. #BabiesAreCuteForAReason

9. When you grumpily give away your last bite of favorite food as your child looks longingly at you your food and innocently asks you for it.  This is a real toughie, and you don't always oblige.  But when you do, you unmistakably make a mental tally of it (you know you do!) for future negotiations.  (Read my remedy to this on my other blog--go ahead, it's only 57 words long).  #TheRealMeaningOfSharing

8. When you repeatedly experience Every Parent's Pain: that you'd trade places with your sick child in a heartbeat.  Because it would actually be less painful that way than to watch your child in that miserable state.  #WishfulThinking

7. When you realize that you're in for a Lifetime of Worry.  Of course, these worries change over time, from religiously counting constipated non-poopy days to the first bus ride to the first date, but then continues onto your own children's parenthood trials and midlife crises.  #AFatefulAbyss

6. When your subconscious daily goal is Finding Balance in everything: helicopter parenting vs free range parenting; attachment parenting vs Babywise parenting; organic-no-sugar-no-artificial-anything diet vs chips-candy-cookies-fastfood-pop diet; structure vs flexibility; drills vs creativity; Tiger Mom vs Ostrich Mom... etc.  The list can go on and on.  #ModerationIsKey

5. When you start feeling guilty about the undesirable genes you've passed down to your progeny, be it your migraines, allergies, or you-name-it condition/disorder/syndrome.  This is not something you actually think about when you wanted to start a family, but the power of DNA is undeniably unforgiving.  #UncannyResemblanceToAFault

4. When you stop dreaming for yourself and start dreaming for your children.  There comes a time when Focus invariably shifts, possibly in the form of setting up a college fund or helping to choose your child's high school or college courses.  It also happens to coincide with the time you begin to feel old.  (Read my poem, Shifted, on this topic--go ahead, it's only 33 words long.)  #TheGivingTreeInRealLife

3. When you realize that your Parental Affects are more universal than those you instinctively have for your own children: that you hurt when any children hurt, and that you smile when any child is happy.  You grasped it in the horror of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and you felt it in the laughter of children--whom you don't even know--celebrating a birthday on a picnic blanket at the park.  #YourBadgeOfHonor

2. When you realize what being a Role Model means: "be the person you want your child to be."  This is when you learn to shut your potty mouth, start to demonstrate acts of kindness and expressions of empathy, and actively become an upstanding citizen of the community.  Because you want your children to do the same and hope that they will share their lives with equally compassionate people in the future.  #DoAsIDo

1. And--for better or for worse--when you come to the conclusion that parenting doesn't get easier.  You keep thinking that when your child reaches this milestone or that age, that things will get easier.  Well, they'll continue to throw you curve balls and give you unexpected surprises--they're good at that.  New challenges arise when old obstacles fade, and better battles are fought when previous conflicts are put to rest.  As soon as you get your sleep back from New Parenthood, you will no doubt begin to lose sleep over other things, namely every miniscule-tiny-little-teensy-weensy-itty-bitty detail about them, which makes you wonder why you ever wanted to become parents in the first place.  But the truth is: easier doesn't always mean better, and that we're all on this path of Parenthood to continually find improvement within ourselves for our children. 

And it's a challenge for a lifetime.

So, Dear Parent-When, I should denote you as Version 1.0 because you are my first #TopTen on this topic.  There will be others down the road, since, like I said, I'm in this for life.  So of course you shall allow me the opportunity to vent list more as the challenges come.  There are many more that I am expecting, lurking just beyond the horizon that seem to be smugly snickering at me.  Well, I'll get to them when I get to them.

Care to share your Parent-Whens?



  1. You know you're a parent when you spend more hours each night with someone other than your spouse - and you're not cheating on him.

    1. That's a great one, and I can totally relate to it, Nilsa! Those few moments of alone time with a spouse can be so precious. Date night anytime soon?

  2. Good ones...I was just thinking about number 3, when any child hurts you feel a pang in your heart.

    You know that you are a parent when you are nursing your sweet newborn and start bursting into tears thinking about all the future hurts he/she might get. You then think, what was I thinking when I decided to create a whole new being? How selfish and arrogant of me....

    You know that you are a parent when you are so exhausted that you want to hurt your newborn but instead hit a pillow.

    I love being a parent to my teens now, despite the daily challenges. I just realized that they still want me in their life despite what they might say or show.

    Trying to be the best mother I can....

    1. Laura, I think being parents change our perspectives so much! Back then, I didn't have those scary thoughts when I was nursing my newborns; maybe I was just trying to get through the day, but now... it's on my mind so often! I remember shoving my babies at DH when he got home cuz I was so exhausted, and I wanted to go hide in a closet.

      I'm sure your teenagers want you to be a part of their lives, and that you love the same as well. It's just a whole other set of parenting challenges, right? I'll get there soon enough... We are all being the best moms we can be! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Haha! I can totally get that moment when you really want to eat those cookies, but you let your kids have them instead.

    1. Oh, yes... Then that's the day when I gorge on them after the kiddos go to bed. Mmmmm, cookies! Thanks, Asianmommy!

  4. You're so nice to share your food with your kids. I'm selfish...I've hidden the cookies and waited til they went to bed to eat them :)

    Great list - I can relate to these. My brain isn't working, so I don't have anything to add, though!

    1. Hi, Janna! No, I don't always share, either! I have my nighttime stashes right in my nightstand, shhh! Thanks for stopping by and reading--I'm glad you can relate to these. :)

  5. #10 I started not caring about handling others' bodily functions when we got our dog & she got diarrhea or vomit on the carpet, and on herself too. Of course, when J does it, I try not to breathe, but still, I gotta do it. Miraculously, the gag reflex I used to have SO BAD just went away.

    #9 Been there. French fries, gone. Dessert, gone. It's ok. I've had a lifetime of those things. He's just experiencing them now.

    #6 Constant battle in my head. "It's ok he's spending THIS weekend entirely in front of the TV because last weekend, we spent most of the time outside." Like that. All the time.

    #3 Yep, I can't stand to watch kids suffer or be hungry or be abused. I hurt for parents who've lost their children.

    #1 You're right, parenting doesn't get easier necessarily. It just gets different.

    My parent-when is you realize how bad food is at restaurants. I remember taking J out to restaurants and the only thing on the kid menu was chicken tenders, pizza, and hot dogs. I was mad. Where were the veggies and fruit? And real food? I used to just share whatever I ordered with him. But then I never got to eat what I wanted, like the bad food ;) and spicy food.

    Which brings me to my second parent-when. It's when you realize you're a hypocrite and cave-in to the kid's menu. When I go out to eat, I eat badly because the other 90% of the time, I eat pretty healthy at home! I want to indulge in a burger and fries and maybe a milkshake too. Why should I deny those things to J? And I realized also the reason that those items are on the menu is because they are easy for a kid to eat by themselves. I don't want to spend my evening out cutting up food and making sure he doesn't spill messy food everywhere, like I do at home! So, we order off the kids menu more often than not now. Oh, how silly I was! Hehe.

    1. Hi, Lisa! #10 was at its worst when I was preggo with DS and DD had, um, some gastrointestinal issues. Oy. Glad your gag reflex left you!!

      Your Parent-Whens: it is just hard to keep a good balance on yummy/bad foods and ordinary/healthy foods. I like to indulge in a gourmet burger a few times a year myself! Of course, we try to keep the kiddos' diet on the healthy side at home, so when we go out, they get to indulge a little bit, too. I love that FOOD is always a huge part of our lives, parenting or not! Hehe!

      Thanks, Lisa!

  6. Spot-on, Sandra. I don't think I have anything more to add to your list. I especially identify with nos. 5 and 3, though all the rest are also very real to me.

    Aw, here is one thing I can add - I knew I was a parent when I realized the trouble my parents went through to raise me. It always crosses my mind whenever I have to deal with stubbornness and scenes with my own parents lamenting my own willfulness flash back so clearly.

    1. Thanks for relating to my list! 5 and 3 are the not-so-glamorous Parent-Whens, but definite ones nevertheless. My upbringing was very different from my own kiddos', so I cannot really comment on seeing any parallels. But when you do, it is quite humbling, isn't it?

      Thanks for your visit! I always appreciate your thoughts, Imdelda!